How to Start a Catering Business

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The first step in starting up a catering business is to draw up a business plan, which should encompass the licensing, identifying competition, marketing, price structure and logistics. Set up a catering business from the ground with helpful information from a catering chef in this free video on food service.

Part of the Video Series: Catering Business
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Video Transcript

I'm Karen Lasher, chef/owner of Around the Table in Camas, Washington. And I have been catering for over twenty years. I've done catering for presidents of the United States and for five people in their home for dinner. Catering is a very exciting business. But like any business, to start a business you really need to do the work up front. And by doing the work up front I mean you need to write a very sound detailed business plan. And in that business plan it's going to make you walk through all the pieces of the business, from licensing and regulations to identifying your competition, creating a marketing plan, setting up your price structure, all those things will be necessary. The Small Business Administration has some great detailed information on writing a business plan and there's a lot of resources out there in order to write a business plan. Also, as a caterer to start your business, you need to decide on what kind of caterer you want to be. There are many different forms of catering. There's corporate catering, there's social catering, which a large segment of that is weddings. Some caterers, specifically they only do weddings. There's community affairs, special events, kosher, caterers that specify or only do liquor service, bar service. So, decide what you want to do. Decide what kind of caterer you want to be and go from there. The two things that are going to major in your business are your kitchen, you have to have a kitchen to work out of. In most states you'll have to check your state's health department regulations. But most all states require you to work out of a licensed kitchen. So you'll need to have a kitchen to work out of, and you'll need to have a lot of equipment, both cooking equipment and catering equipment. And catering equipment ranges from everything from your plates to service items. This is a great type of item that your might want to have in a catering business. It can be used for a lot of different displays. It has great height so it has a dramatic effect on a buffet; to service pieces like water pitchers and all that. So there's a lot of equipment that needs to be had. You can find all that information in a lot of great resources. Again, there's a lot of books that will detail all the you need to have and create a check list. And then finally to start your business, you really need to have a good list of recipes, things that you do good, that you are really, that you specialize in. You could have regional specialties, your want to be known for your food. And so you really want to perfect that before you get started. So, it's a great business, it's very rewarding, it's exciting, but it also takes a lot of work. So do that work up front and you'll have a great start to a great catering business.


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